Featuring an international team, tight graphics produced by legendary designer-artists Mike Hill and Don Pendleton, and appealing to the more dope style of skater, Seek has done a good job of both making heads turn and attracting support from skateboarders everywhere.
Not surprising considering the talented roster headed by Rob Dyrdek and Josh Kalis, and including Colin McKay, Mike Taylor, Greg Myers, France’s Florentin Marfaing-who rode for DNA’s European distributor for six years-and Brazil’s Alex Carolino.
“It was (Rob) Dyrdek and (Josh) Kalis’ idea,” says Tony Heitz, team manager for DNA Distribution’s brands Alien Workshop, Habitat, and Seek. “They wanted to do their own thing.”
“It’s mine and Kalis’ deal,” says Dyrdek. “And McKay is supporting us. I’ve rolled with Kalis on everything I’ve done, so to do this was natural.”
With a clean look and strong design, Seek was launched at the February 2002 ASR show in Long Beach, California. At the time, Dayton, Ohio-based DNA Distribution only had two board brands: Alien Workshop (AWS) and Habitat. Together they had a huge team-Steve Berra and Heath Kirchart just signed on to Alien Workshop. “We think there’s only a limited number of pros you want to have on a brand before they get lost in the brand,” says Chris Carter, owner and president of DNA Distribution, adding that Dyrdek expressed an interest in a brand of his own. Once Berra and Kirchart joined Alien Workshop, the door opened to move Kalis and Dyrdek to Seek, Carter explains.
“I consider it the dope section of the Alien Workshop sect,” says Dyrdek. “Me and Kalis are a little more extended than everyone else on the sect-a little more hip-hop influenced. So when Berra and Heath were coming in, we’d been talking about doing something else for a while, and that gave us an opportunity to do so.”
“All three brands have their own styles to them,” says Kalis. “Because when everyone was on the same team it was like a smorgasbord.”
Heitz expands on Kalis’ point. “Right now, a lot of companies are doing the same type of thing with their images and their teams,” says Heitz. “But Seek is all for something different. It’s a new and creative way of looking at skateboarding and the multifaceted aspect that it is.”
Carter is quick to credit Hill and Pendleton as the artist-designers who drive the brand. “It’s hard to pigeonhole Seek into one thing,” he says, explaining that Hill and Pendleton do all of the artwork for the brand. “They don’t want it to look like Alien Workshop or Habitat, but certainly their direction is being influenced by Alien Workshop-which is a good thing.”
The name for Seek comes from its Alien Workshop-inspired Mike Hill’s influenced roots. “Usually when you start a company you have a definite name ahead of time,” explains Dyrdek. “In the case of Alien Workshop, Mike Hill was super into aliens at the time. But with everyone in the company, we let everyone hear the names and decide.
“We chose this one because of the history of Alien Workshop, it’s (Seek) always been imbedded in there with different graphics and stuff, but never had been totally branded, and it has a lot of meaning. Mike has really taken the reins of Seek,” adds Dyrdek.
“Branching off would’ve been one of my fantasies,” he adds. “I had really wanted to isolate the certain type of skater that we were into a different company, and we had talked about it for a number of years. I had even talked about splitting off around the time Habitat began. But it was ultimately the timing-when Heath came into the picture it made it perfect.”
Carter is happy with the response from retailers and skateboarders to Seek over the past year, saying the brand has had support from the beginning. However, he’s quick to admit that developing the brand has had its share of challenges: “I think that reaching the kids is a challenge for us. There are so many brands and so many companies. There’s a lot of younger buyers out there-the demographiic aged twelve to fourteen may or may not be in the know.”
“Kids seem to be really stoked,” adds Kalis.
“I think that ultimately within the first year, a lot of kids didn’t understand the separation factor of a new company, just because Kalis and I had been a part of Alien Workshop for so long,” explains Dyrdek. “Now it’s good. Plus, with Mike Hill taking the reins, it’s graphically a lot stronger than the first year.”
“A brand that’s roughly one year old may or may not be a household name,” adds Carter.
“Skateboarding is so diverse, and it seems at times that it gets into a monotonous and repetitive thing. Seek is offering more,” Heitz says. “Seek allows the original aspect of skateboarding to continue in its truest form. The identity comes out as the company grows.” Heitz feels the international aspect of Seek is its strongest attribute.
Both Dyrdek and Kalis make team decisions, although Dyrdek says Heitz is the first influential team manager at the Workshop: “He does a good job of dealing with the youngest kid and everything that comes along with dealing with two completely foreign kids-one lives in Europe and one lives in Brazil.”
Dyrdek is clear that Seek’s message isn’t far from that of its sister companies Alien Workshop and Habitat. “I think that it’s unique how riders are influenced,” he says. “But like the rest of them, it’s pure skateboarding. Yet it’s from more of the urban-influenced side but from the same fundamentals that make Habitat and Alien Workshop great companies.
“We wanted to be the same as that but the dope version. The unique styles and approaches are what separated these companies from the industry for years,” he adds.
Heitz agrees: “The three teams together are one big family, regardless.”
DNA Distribution’s Midwest location in Dayton, Ohio definitely puts the company and brands in a unique category, considering the vast majority of manufacturers and skateboard hardgoods brands are located in Southern California. “We experience more expensive, challenging, and complex situations than Southern California companies,” says Carter. “We’re not the only major manufacturer outside of Southern California, but we’re one of the major hardgoods companies that is.”Asked how being based in Dayton, Ohio has affected the brand, Kalis replies simply: “It’s just an angle to let the people know that you don’t have to be involved in all the hype.
“Seek is headed straight to the top,” says Dyrdek. “It’s taken a year to really define itself and become its own entity. Now it’s just a matter of when we put out our video. It’ll really add the true definition of being a top brand from DNA Distribution.”
Blinging Comments Sidebar:
The Money Quotes From Dyrdek And Kalis
“All right. It’s like this: I think that it’s basically headed to take over skateboarding. I think Alien Workshop, Habitat, and Seek are going to get sued by the government for being a monopoly.”-Josh Kalis, when asked where Seek was headed.
“I’m sure there’re people in the hype that are thoroughbred.” -Josh Kalis
“The future of skateboarding is right around the corner-it’ll be rearing its head in Dayton, Ohio. The cross of the skateboard history will go right through Dayton, Ohio. Thanks to both DC and Seek, but you’ll know about that soon enough.”-Rob Dyrdek
“I don’t really know. It will be the most popular pretty soon. I see it pretty much sporadic, you know, all over the place.”-Josh Kalis, when asked if Seek is more popular in certain parts of the country than others.